I would like to follow up on the three letters published in your paper on 26th January 2018 which highlighted the shortcomings of Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) and I comment as follows:-
- Scarborough Borough Council claims that the Council spend in Whitby is higher per head than Scarborough. Where do these figures come from? Cllr Helen Mallory stated that the SBC spend in Whitby has been £6m over 5 years – slightly over £1m per annum – not an enormous sum for a town of 12,940 souls. Maybe, but what income has SBC received from Whitby town over that period? More than £1m per annum comes from the off street car parks and business rates are substantial. It is possible that Whitby town provides about one third of SBC’s annual income. The issue of Catalan independence from Spain springs to mind!
- Cllr Mallory did not specify how much of the spend was SBC’s own money and how much had come from grant funding and/or Section 106 money. Section 106 funds are a planning obligation against major developers in an area to put money back into the local community. For example Sainsburys and Sirius have contributed many hundreds of thousands of pounds. More than £5million is potentially available to SBC for expenditure in seven areas of their responsibility as a local authority including affordable housing and education.
- SBC leased off our Tourist Information Centre to a restaurant owner – The Star in the Harbour. The lease offered was less than 25 years thereby obstructing the possibility of the local community taking it over. The Town Council had registered the Centre as a Community Asset with a view to future use of the building for the benefit of the town. The people of Whitby were very angry about this and were not given the opportunity to run the Centre themselves (as Thirsk has done so successfully). The volunteers in Thirsk keep their Centre open 365 days a year, unlike the SBC run TIC in Whitby which opens for four days only during the winter. The staff are willing and able to work seven days a week offering an excellent service to the millions of visitors who come to Whitby every year.
- SBC planned to close the public toilets putting Whitby Town Council in a very difficult position. To WTC’s credit they picked up the baton and pay contractors to maintain and service all the public toilets in Whitby. WTC has minimal funds and should not have been put between a rock and a hard place to resolve this issue.
Closing our very successful TIC opened a very large can of worms. There was a great deal of protest from local people and visitors are struggling to find the relocated TIC behind a wall at the back of a car park. The TIC saga made Whitby folk much more aware of how much harbour land income SBC extract for Scarborough based projects. This income should go back into Whitby Harbour funds for harbour and piers maintenance.
I am watching with a wry smile whether the Directorate and Cabinet of SBC will be able to resolve this self inflicted dilemma. I think this very tricky can of worms will be nigh impossible to close.
Sandra Smith, Esk Terrace, Whitby
This Letter was published in the Whitby Gazette on Fri 9th February 2018.
With thanks and acknowledgements to the Editor.